An old world hidden on Forbidden Hill

14 05 2012

Hidden on a terrace behind the blood and bandages of the Central Fire Station is a delightful old bungalow set amid the luscious greenery of a hill that was once an abode of the Kings. From the world that lies below, it is hard to imagine the world that does exist on the terrace – the entrance to the grounds on which it is set in is well hidden, nestled in between the mystery of the Masonic Hall and a building that I had once remembered as housing the Methodist Book Room, now the Singapore Philatelic Museum.

The entrance to the Flutes at the Fort housed in a century old colonial bungalow is hidden between the mysterious Masonic Hall and the Singapore Philatelic Museum.

A pathway takes one along the back of the Central Fire Station up to a terrace on which the delightful black and white century old bungalow sits.

I found myself heading up to the bungalow one afternoon, headed for an event held to honour the founder of Azimuth, Alvin Lye as The Glenlivet Pioneer of the Year. Stepping through the hidden entrance way, a sign reveals that it is to the Flutes at the Fort that I was heading to, up through a shady part that ran along the back fence of the Central Fire Station, up to a world a large part of I am familiar with from my many explorations in the area during my days in school. To the bungalow that stood on a terrace above the pathway, I had not previously ventured to, and it was as much to satisfy my curiosity for what is a conserved black and white bungalow – the only one now on the hill that was in the days of the Kings of Singapore known as “Forbidden Hill“, as well as to attend the event itself, that I found myself making my way up to the terrace.

A view from the pathway.

The bungalow and an auxiliary building.

The bungalow elevated on stilts and with a generous amount of openings to keep it cool and airy – as is common in many similar houses built to house senior officers of the Colonial administration which this one apparently also built as, was built at the turn of the last century during the same period that the Central Fire Station itself was. It served as the quarters of the Superintendent of the Singapore Fire Brigade convenient in its location at the back of what had been the first and main fire station it overlooks. Although available information identifies the bungalow as being one built in 1908, it does appear that the construction took place after the start of construction of the Central Fire Station. It was built at a cost of $7,800 with the tender for its construction “in accordance to plans and specifications” drawn up by the Municipal Engineer that was awarded to the same contractor that built the Central Fire Station, a Chia Tien Siew, in May 1909.

The bungalow sits on a terrace over the Central Fire Station.

Elevated on stilts, the bungalow features a generous amount of openings that is typical of colonial residences.

The very first occupant of bungalow when it was completed was perhaps fittingly the then Superintendent of the Fire Brigade, Montague William Pett, the first professionally trained Superintendent of the Fire Brigade, who arrived from England in 1905 and served as the Superintendent up until 1912. In his time here, Pett had seen to the construction of the fire station, seen to the modernisation of the fire brigade’s equipment and transformed the fire brigade into a respected and effective force.

The stairway up to the bungalow.

A view from the verandah.

The lovely setting in which the very spacious and airy bungalow off what is Lewin Terrace that served as the residence of Pett and the colonial Superintendents of the Fire Brigade that followed has been given conservation status since November 2005 makes it an ideal place to hide a restaurant, Flutes at the Fort, away that in the words of the restaurant itself, is “a vineyard inspired experience (that) affords a time away from the noise of the city and modern distractions”. On the basis of what I discovered, it certainly is a place that takes one far away from the noise of the city, and to a time

The verandah.

The bungalow is now used by a restaurant Flutes at the Fort.


A salute to a creator of time where time stands still

14 05 2012

In a world where time seemed to stand still that the spirit demonstrated by a creator of time was celebrated in the company of good spirits. The world, the beautifully conserved building that houses the Flutes at the Fort, was the location where the pioneering spirit of Alvin Lye, a creator of luxury timepieces, was saluted as The Glenlivet Pioneer of the Year.

A world where time seems to stand still was where a creator of time was honoured as The Glenlivet Pioneer of the Year.

The Glenlivet Pioneer of the year is one that honours the vision, passion, courage and tenacity shown by Singapore based pioneers who demonstrate the same qualities that The Glenlivet founder George Smith displayed in creating his brand of single malt whiskies The Glenlivet. The Glenlivet spirit is one that Alvin, who together with his partner Christopher Long founded Azimuth – a homegrown premium luxury timepiece brand, has certainly demonstrated in growing his brand. Despite the odds of developing a name in an area that hadn’t previously been associated with Singapore, Alvin has transformed Azimuth into an internationally established brand which enjoys equal status with other high-end brands.

Alvin Lye speaking on receiving the honour.

Azimuth has grown to be an internationally recognised brand of luxury timepieces.

A window into time?

On receiving the honour, Alvin spoke of the value of time, which also is whisky’s most important ingredient: “I am honoured to be The Glenlivet Pioneer as I can identify with the pioneering spirit that drove George Smith to create his whisky. To guide Azimuth onto the path of success and recognition will take time and we have no plans to rush or take short cuts to success. We will strive to pursue a path of excellence and innovation in watchmaking and if it takes us years to perfect a new design, so be it. With time, perfection will follow”.

The Glenlivet is the biggest selling single malt in the US. Known as “the single malt that started it all”.

As The Glenlivet Pioneering Spirit Pioneer for 2012, Azimuth will also be supported by The Glenlivet in its activities through the year, one of which will be Azimuth’s Watch Appreciation Academy in Singapore for enthusiasts and collectors keen to learn about the intricacies of watchmaking. Another activity that is being planned for that The Glenlivet is supporting is Azimuth’s participation in Singapore Showcase – a National Day event to celebrate Singapore’s creativity and enterprise, featuring made-in-Singapore brands. More information on this will be available on The Glenlivet Pioneering Spirit Facebook at For more information about The Glenlivet Pioneering Spirit and the Singapore Pioneers, please visit

Sampling The Glenlivet XXV.

About The Glenlivet

The Glenlivet is the biggest selling single malt in the US. Known as ‘the single malt that started it all’ – The Glenlivet was the first licensed distillery in the parish of Glenlivet, established in 1824 and, in turn, defined the Speyside style of whisky which became the heartland of Scotch malt whisky production. The Glenlivet was the very first malt to be promoted in the US, as soon as Prohibition was lifted. A pioneering spirit, inspired by The Glenlivet founder, George Smith, runs through the history of The Glenlivet and is just as prevalent today – epitomised by the introduction of the unique French Oak Reserve, the award-winning The Glenlivet 18 Year Old and The Glenlivet 21 Year Old Archive and The Glenlivet Cellar Collection.

About Azimuth

Founded in 2004, Azimuth is a luxury watch manufacturer, focused on creating avant-garde designs for mechanical timepieces. Azimuth watches sport a variety of styles never before seen in the world of luxury horology, from racecar instrument panels to gaming tables to robots.

Azimuth is a luxury watch brand that manages the entire mechanical timepiece production from research, development and manufacturing, to retail, distribution and delivery worldwide. Azimuth’s foundational pillars that guide its watch-making philosophy are: avant-garde designs, mechanical complications, and Swiss-made quality. In June 2009, Azimuth established its exclusive atelier in Bienne, Switzerland, to research, model and assemble its watches.

Azimuth is distributed in Europe, North, South and Central Americas, the Middle East and Asia. In Asia, its distributorships are in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia and soon to be in China. Azimuth also owns and manages its own Exclusive Boutiques in Singapore.

For more information, visit Join Azimuth on Facebook at

Another view of the Flutes at the Fort.